Recently, in the morning worship at our church, we used a lamentation written by former Biola/Talbot student, John Rinehart, to help us think about what it means to turn to the Lord in repentance. I include this today with the hope that God will continue to soften our hearts to the awesomeness of his holiness and the wonder of his love and grace. May the Lord turn our hearts to him more and more each day as we await the soon return of Jesus.
Oh Lord, have mercy on us,
Not according to our righteousness, but your steadfast love
For we have sinned,
And all our evil ways are evident before you
We are a people who love violence:
Movies are filled with murder and bloodshed,
We entertain ourselves like men of old,
Watching the strong defeat the weak,
Our men think manhood is physical strength or sexual conquest, not holiness,
We find more men in the gym working on their bodies,
Than in church working on their souls,
Or in their homes working on their families,
We don’t hate violence, in fact, in doesn’t even faze us anymore,
We’re amused by steroid induced MMA fighters, who act more like animals than like men,
We too would have rushed to the Coliseum in Rome to support the bloodshed,
Praising the strong for their victories and dismissing the weak without a second thought.
Your wrath, O Lord is due on us, for we reject you at every turn.
You hate divorce and yet our hearts are so hard that over half of marriages end this way,
We treat it as normal and have whole professions and industries that accommodate it,
Some people even get divorced again and again,
We twist your word when we don’t like it, excusing our sin and disregarding your truth.
“Not even a hint of sexual immorality” your Word says,
And yet it seems that there is not even a hint of sexual purity left.
It seems that everything that can be done, will be done,
And we are lost and blind without you.
Our promiscuity and sensuality is hatred toward our neighbors, not love.
We use and manipulate others for our gain, rather than serve and protect others for their pleasure.
We do not guard our hearts, but instead turn our ways to the right and the left,
Straying from your path,
Wandering from your way,
Going our own way,
And never thinking that we are sheep headed for the slaughter,
Never giving thought to our end.
We distort your image, thinking it impossible that you might be a God of wrath,
Denying that we deserve judgment and that you, Lord are sure to bring it.
O Lord, how we need repentance, reformation and revival.
Your people are dragged away by the currents of this world,
And the further we stray, the less we can hear or even remember your voice,
For you once called to us,
You once spoke to us,
You once convicted us,
And now our silence is full of noise, not full of your voice.
O Lord, your people flee from the cities of influence,
We run to the suburbs where land and homes entice us,
We want freedom and space, not truth and grace.
Your mission becomes our occasional hobby,
Instead of a lamp to our feet and a light to our path,
The light of your word is like a candle almost gone out.
We run after other counselors, not you, the Wonderful Counselor,
We take the advice of magazine editors, newspaper columnists and TV personalities,
While your word collects dust or is reduced from sixty six books to simply Psalms and Proverbs.
We read little and think even less,
We avoid your calling and delegate ministry to professionals,
As if the priesthood of all believers was a bad theological idea,
We like the Israelites would ask you for a King of a Pastor who is omni-competent,
Or at least funny and mildly passionate about something.
We ignore our omnipotent King of Kings,
Not because we wouldn’t correctly be able to identify this title for Jesus on a Bible exam,
But because we fail to submit to you as King.
We resist the truth that you are King and we are not.
We lie in saying that we are Christians, when we won’t let Christ be King,
We won’t bend the knee to anyone, and so our pride is everywhere,
Which leads to our abundance of anger, complaining and strife.
We are a broken people wandering around in the dark,
Like sheep without a shepherd,
Made in the image of God,
And yet so repetitively scratching the itch in our souls with anything but truth,
We cannot remove the splinter without our Master Surgeon,
But instead we think our idols can be our surgeons,
While they only leave us more wounded.
O God, have mercy on us, according to your steadfast love,
For the sake of your name, forgive our transgressions,
Forgive us for playing at our worship, worshipping our work, and working at our play,
We don’t keep your Sabbath,
We treat it like it was a good idea for people who didn’t have the internet,
But for us, we need to keep going.
We don’t trust you.
We don’t believe you.
We don’t know you.
We think your yoke is heavy, not light,
To follow you is a list of rules to keep, not a new life to lead.
The promise of your Holy Spirit was also for days gone by,
Not for our strength in the fight,
Nor for water when we’ve run dry.
We love to drink,
And are impressed to think,
Of what we carry in our hands
With no concern for the drunkenness of our land.
We love mirrors,
Because in them we see our gods,
The love of self,
Self-image and Self-help
Not self-discipline or self-control,
Self-esteem, not Christ esteem,
On whom do we lean?
Lord, without you we will be,
Punished for all eternity,
So please have mercy on our offense,
And lead our land to repentance.
For the one who walked the dusty streets,
And saw what had become of what was made,
Was not received, but instead was beat,
For speaking the truth and calling out spades.
So Lord, come quickly and save us from,
Your judgment and wrath which are to come.